Drinking contaminated water can have a dramatic effect on our health and wellbeing. In Flint, MI, we saw that public water treatment and disinfection is not a guarantee of safety. For this reason, many people choose to install their own home water filtration system as a final line of defense. Water contaminants cover a wide range of categories and the effects can vary from bad tasting water right up to severe health problems. The Safe Water Drinking Act states that a “physical, chemical, biological or radiological substance” is considered to be a contaminant.
4 Broad Contaminants Categories
There are several loose elements in every group of contaminants, let’s take a look at some examples within each group to better illustrate this:
- Biological: Bacteria, viruses, pathogens, and other potentially harmful microorganisms.
- Chemical: Pesticides, nitrates, pharmaceutical byproducts, and more.
- Physical: Microplastics, rust, flakes of lead paint, and others.
- Radiological: Radon, radium, uranium, and more.
Most of these contaminants are filtered out by a municipal water treatment plant. But, some may be classed as emergent contaminants and the EPA may not have guidelines for acceptable concentrations in place. In the case of something extremely toxic like lead, there is no acceptable concentration that’s considered to be healthy. Sadly, human error, breaks in our aging water delivery networks, and other factors can allow contaminants to enter the water supply. Private well water users are solely responsible for the water testing and treatment of their water supply.
Which is the Best Filter Type?
This is a difficult question to answer without knowing which contaminants are found in your water supply. The best way to answer this question is laboratory water testing to understand what is in the water and the contamination levels. This data is essential if you want to choose the best water filtration solution to meet your needs. That said, there are two tried and tested filtration methods in common use. They are:
1. Granular Activated Carbon (GAC)
This uses an adsorption process to attract contaminants into the filter where they are trapped. The best models have a 5-stage filtration process that removes sediment, improves the taste and odor, removes chlorine and chloramine, and total dissolved solids (TDS).
2. Reverse Osmosis (RO)
At the heart of this 4-stage filter system is a semi-permeable membrane filter covered with tiny pores that allow water to pass through and trap the contaminants. To protect the RO filter, there is an initial pre filter to remove sediment, a GAC filter to remove chlorine, and the RO filter is followed by a second GAC filter to add character. The water is cleaned to an exceptionally high standard, but some people add a final remineralization stage to give the water a final polish for drinking and cooking. A RO water filter can remove a wide range of contaminants, including arsenic, lead, microorganisms, heavy metals, chemicals, nitrate, pharmaceutical byproducts, and many more.
If you’re considering a home water filtration system installation, contact your local water treatment specialist.
By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.